Murdaugh co-conspirator Russell Laffitte sentenced to seven years in prison

Watch WIS News 10 at 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Published: Aug. 1, 2023 at 9:56 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WIS) - Russell Laffitte, the Alex Murdaugh co-conspirator, was sentenced to seven years in prison on Tuesday for his role in helping the now-convicted killer steal millions of dollars from clients and his former law firm.

Judge Richard Gergel sentenced Laffitte at Charleston’s federal courthouse, following an hours-long hearing that began at 10 A.M.

During the hearing, attorneys for both sides delivered their arguments, nine people spoke on Laffitte’s behalf and victims made impact statements.

Gergel said the defendant was an integral part of the nearly decade-long scheme to defraud clients, many of whom were “extremely vulnerable,” he said.

The offenses were serious, Gergel said.

Laffitte, the former CEO of Palmetto State Bank was found guilty by a jury last November of six counts of federal financial crimes.

Laffitte had been named conservator in charge of handling assets from settlements Murdaugh had won for clients, but he mishandled those funds.

Laffitte’s victims, Gergel said, were treated like “players on a chess board,” as he moved money around to Murdaugh’s financial gain and his own.

One of the victims who spoke during the hearing was Alaina Plyler, who said she looked up to Laffitte as a father figure before money from the family’s conservatorship was stolen.

Plyler attorney Eric Bland said Laffitte took advantage of the Plyler sisters and jeopardized the banking system.

“This is a tale of two men,” he said.

The mother of another one of Laffitte’s victims, Pamela Pinckney, addressed the defendant, saying, “I will forgive you, but I will never forget you.”

Gergel called it one of the most complex criminal operations he has ever seen.

Prior to sentencing, Laffitte apologized to his victims, turning to them in the courtroom and said his failure to not ask more questions got him here.

He asked the judge for mercy, not just for himself, but for his family.

Several family members pleaded with Gergel for leniency, including his wife Susie and his daughter Carter.

Susie called her husband “The glue” that holds their family together.

Limehouse said Laffitte’s apology came two years too late, and argued that Laffitte has shown no real remorse.

Though prosecutors had pushed for nine-11 years in prison, Limehouse told reporters in an interview after the sentencing that she was pleased with the outcome.

“Russell Laffitte is a man of extraordinary privilege, and I think we see people like that in communities all across South Carolina,” she said. “Our office and the FBI and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division have expended incredible resources to go after this one individual. And we hope it sends a message that we’ll do the same for any other individuals who are in positions of trust like Russell Laffitte, that we’ll do whatever it takes to bring justice.”

Gergel said he needed to weigh several factors before imposing a sentence, including a need to deter others from committing the same crimes.

Notice a spelling or grammar error in this article? Click or tap here to report it. Please include the article's headline.

Stay up to date with WIS News 10. Get the app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store and Stream us on Roku, YouTube, Amazon Fire, or Apple TV.